The government is mulling the establishment of a new car assessment program, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday, adding that the Vehicle Safety Certification Center is assessing ways such a program might be enforced.
The ministry issued the statement after the brakes of a concrete pumping truck on Wednesday apparently failed while it was going down Yangmingshan’s (陽明山) Yangde Boulevard, causing it to crash into oncoming traffic, killing four people and injuring nine.
Following the accident, writer Huang Shao-bo (黃邵博) published an opinion piece in the Chinese-language Business Weekly accusing the ministry of not caring about people’s lives.
Huang said that other nations promulgate new car assessment programs to protect their consumers, but Taiwanese learn about the importance of vehicle safety by repeatedly conducting collision experiments “with their lives.”
The ministry said that Taiwan has had a vehicle safety inspection system since 1998, adding that the EU, Japan, Australia and other countries put into place similar regulations in the same year.
Since 2006, Taiwan has also fine-tuned its vehicle safety regulations so they are now in sync with those stipulated by the UN Economic Commissions for Europe, the ministry said.
In addition, Article 63 of the Highway Act (公路法) requires vehicles to pass safety certification tests before they can be registered, the ministry said, adding that small passenger vehicles must meet the standards set for 59 test items to pass.
The nation’s inspection standards for vehicle collision tests are based on the UN’s regulations on the protection of occupants in frontal or lateral collisions, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, the EU is to enforce regulations preventing fire risks caused by rear-end collisions as well as rules on the vehicle restraint system in frontal and side impacts, adding that the regulations would not be enforced until next year and 2020 respectively.
Taiwan also plans to implement similar regulations soon, the ministry said, adding that the date of enforcement would be announced after the Vehicle Safety Certification Center completes discussions on both types of regulations next month.
The European New Car Assessment Program (Euro-NCAP) and vehicle safety inspection system in the EU are completely different systems, the ministry said.
While the European Commission mandates that all cars in the EU pass safety inspections before they are licensed, the Euro-NCAP is an independent program backed by the EU, it said.
However, the Euro-NCAP is a voluntary vehicle safety rating system as the standards in the program are stricter than vehicle inspection criteria set by the European Commission, it said.
Therefore, the Euro-NCAP program is often used to evaluate some popular car types, the ministry said, adding that results of the evaluation are then converted into “star grades” that can be used by consumers as a reference.
The ministry said that the Euro-NCAP rating is only one of nine similar programs enforced around the world.
Should the nation choose to enforce the Euro-NCAP system, it would need to build a new laboratory to conduct the tests, the ministry said.
“We are working with the Vehicle Safety Certification Center to establish a new car assessment program, including the items to be tested, the agency to enforce the program and the source of funding,” the ministry said.
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